Category Archives: Handbook

New Handbook published

The new edition of the Handbook has now been published and pre-order copies are being dispatched. You can order your copy from LAG here.

This book is an invaluable companion and essential reading for all legal aid practitioners, from caseworkers to senior partners. The authors have expertly pulled together information that is not currently available in one place providing the only single volume guide to the criminal and civil legal aid scheme.

‘… admirably clear on some very tricky points. There should be at least one copy in every office where legal aid work is carried out.’ Carol Storer, director, LAPG.

‘I wish I could say “this book is never off my desk” but the truth is my copy of LAG Legal Aid Handbook always appears to be on someone else’s … Essential reading for all practitioners seeking to provide a first class service to clients in a post-LASPO world.’  Phil Walsh Partner/Practice Manager, Miles & Partners LLP.

The  LAG legal aid handbook 2017/18 gives practical, step by step guidance on conducting cases, getting paid, advocacy, financial and contract management, performance monitoring and quality standards and an overview of recent policy developments. There are separate chapters on all the major areas of law covered by legal aid and sections devoted to litigators and advisers, advocates and managers.

This edition has been updated to include:

•  full coverage of the new 2017 crime contract

•  latest changes and updates to the civil scheme

•  discussion of current case law and hot topics in legal aid practice

•  hints, tips and practical advice from how to manage a contract to navigating CCMS

•  specialist chapters on billing, crime, public family law, private family law, housing, mental health, immigration and exceptional funding

•  a dedicated section for advocates

•  guidance on managing legal aid work and tendering for contracts

•  a full round up of the latest policy developments

The only comprehensive guide to the whole legal aid scheme, the new edition features chapters written by expert contributors Anthony Edwards, Richard Charlton, Steve Hynes, Solange Valdez-Symonds and Katie Brown. The LAG legal aid handbook 2017/18 is packed full of case studies, checklists and practical tips. It provides clear and easy to follow guidance on the ever more complex legal aid system and is essential reading for everyone involved in legal aid from new caseworkers to experienced lawyers and managers.

 

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Articles, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

The new Handbook – coming very soon!

The brand new edition of the LAG Legal Aid Handbook will be published at the beginning of April. Fully revised and updated, this edition features

  • full coverage of the new 2017 crime contract
  • latest changes and updates to the civil scheme
  • discussion of current case law and hot topics in legal aid practice
  • hints, tips and practical advice from how to manage a contract to navigating CCMS
  • specialist chapters on billing, crime, public family law, private family law, housing, mental health, immigration and exceptional funding
  • a dedicated section for advocates
  • guidance on managing legal aid work and tendering for contracts
  • a full round up of the latest policy developments

The Handbook is edited by Vicky Ling and Simon Pugh, and features contributions from a range of subject experts including Anthony Edwards, Steve Hynes, Richard Charlton, Solange Valdez-Symonds and Katie Brown.

You can pre-order your copy now by e-mailing: direct.orders@marston.co.uk or phoning: 01235 465577, or by clicking here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Advocacy, Articles, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, LASPO, Mental Health, Policy, Public Law, Social welfare

Upcoming training – with free books!

Our publisher LAG is running training courses by two of the Handbook’s editors as part of its autumn training programme.

Vicky Ling is delivering “Managing Civil Legal Aid Contracts” in London on 15 September. Participants get a free copy of the Handbook. More details here.

Anthony Edwards is embarking on a national tour speaking on criminal costs. Participants get a free copy of our sister publication, Anthony’s book (with Colin Beaumont) Criminal Costs. More details, including dates and venues, here.

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Filed under Actions Against the Police, Civil, Clinical Negligence, Community Care, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, Mental Health, Public Law, Social welfare

Summer sale – 20% off the Handbook

Our publisher LAG is running a summer sale. For August only, it is offering 20% off the Handbook and up to 30% off a range of its other excellent titles. Click here for more details of the offer.

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New free resources for keeping up with legal aid changes

We have updated our ‘LASPO resources‘ page – which is one of the most used features on this site and is recommended by LAPG.

It now has links to all the updated civil and crime regulations. If you are not sure what has changed, check out the 2013-14 Handbook Updates page.

We have also provided links to the peer review ‘improving your quality’ guides on the old LSC website. Although peer reviews are still being carried out and there is information on the process there are regrettably no support materials to help practitioners on the Legal Aid Agency website.

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Filed under Advocacy, Civil, Costs, Crime, Family, Handbook, Housing, LASPO

When can CFAs replace legal aid?

Many practitioners are concerned about the implications of recent delays in granting legal aid whilst the LAA is making detailed investigations about whether CFAs are available – even in cases where they clearly are not.

This issue has arisen since the LAA re-designed the CIVAPP1 form.  Under the Civil Legal Aid (Merits Criteria) Regulations 2013 (Reg 39), the Director of Legal Aid has to consider whether the case is ‘unsuitable’ for a CFA and the LAA has changed the wording on the form so that it matches the regulation.

 Lots of people have mistakenly ticked ‘no’, to the question on p.8 of the form, indicating that they think the case IS suitable for a CFA, and the LAA is now coming back to them for more information.

 The Lord Chancellor’s Guidance on Civil Legal Aid says:

 7.17 The test of suitability for a CFA is an objective one, rather than a question of whether an individual provider is willing to act under a CFA. In principle a non-family case may be considered suitable for a conditional fee agreement if:

– Prospects of success are considered at least at 60%

– The opponent is considered able to meet any costs and/or damages (or other sum of money) that might be awarded

–  After-the-event insurance can be obtained by the applicant

7.18 An applicant without after-the-event insurance seeking services otherwise considered suitable for a CFA will be expected to provide evidence of attempts to secure such insurance. Even where evidence is provided of refusals of insurance, the Director him/herself may make enquiries of insurers to see if they would support a CFA in the individual circumstances

7.19 The absence of after-the-event insurance, perhaps because the applicant cannot afford or defer the premium, will not necessarily be fatal to CFA suitability. In particular, whilst cost protection may be an important consideration for an applicant, in a very strong case the risk of an adverse costs order will clearly be small. For example, if prospects of success are considered at least 80% and substantial disbursements are not required, the case is unlikely to satisfy this criterion.

7.20 The fact that the applicant may wish to obtain legal aid rather than a CFA because of the potential deduction from damages in respect of a success premium or damages agreement, will not of itself prevent a case being suitable for a CFA

What can you do?

 Obviously –make sure everyone ticks ‘yes’ in future!

 Ideas you might try in response to queries by the LAA:

 In cases where there will be no claim for damages (or no counterclaim) the client would not be able to obtain ATE insurance, so a CFA would not be realistic.

 You could try a pre-emptive ‘shopping around’ exercise of trying to attempt obtaining ATE in a couple of typical scenarios, so that you could use those as examples of why a CFA would not be available.

 If you are an NfP agency that does not offer CFAs, you could try asking a friendly firm whether they would accept some typical case scenarios on a CFA basis and again use their response as evidence that such cases are not commercially attractive. If you are a private firm that does offer CFAs, you could set out your criteria for accepting CFAs and why this case would not meet them.

 In many cases, urgent action is required so exploring the possibility of a CFA could jeopardise the client’s case, so not a realistic alternative to legal aid.

 The Legal Aid Practitioners Group understands the LAA’s view is that it may be possible for CFAs to be obtained, perhaps by a limited number of firms with good links to the insurance market and is seeking more information about this.

 LAPG, with ILPA and the Law Society have written a letter to the LAA, which they hope will be discussed at the Civil Contracts Consultative Group meeting on 9th September. This is another example of why it is a good idea to become a member of the appropriate representative body – they can take up issues on your behalf with the LAA. Don’t forget the bargain offer on LAPG membership if you mention the Legal Aid Handbook blog.

Simply email conference@lapg.co.uk and mention the fact that you saw the 14 months for the price of 12 offer on Legal Aid Handbook and tell them you want to sign up. Alternatively, you can go straight to their membership page.

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Filed under Civil, Handbook, Housing, Immigration, Social welfare

Criminal regulations summarised

In his regular column in the Law Society Gazette, our co-editor Anthony Edwards provides a helpful summary of the new criminal legal aid regulations in force from 1st April 2013. More can be found in his chapters of the Handbook – available now in hard copy and Kindle versions.

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